Monday, 31 August 2015

George Orwell and Gandhiji to-gether share a small Indian town!!



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George Orwell.www.scmp.com

George orwell on animals.www.buzzquotes.com

Motihari, a nondescript town in East Champaran district of Bihar, India has the unique distinction of being associated with two important personalities of the 20th century whose speeches and writings impacted the society across the globe. The first one is George Orwell, novelist, essayist and critic. He is  famous for his   novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), the latter  being a profound anti-utopian novel that examines the dangers of totalitarian rule. Orwell was born in this small town on June 25, 1903 and later internationally became well-known and the other being Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi, a simple fragile man (in the words of Winston Churchill a seditious, half-naked fakir), an Inner-temple lawyer, who shook the basic foundation of the British Empire. It was here ,Gandhi used Satyagraha (non-cooperation) as a tool on experimental basis to free India from the claws of Britain.


Location of Motihari. Mapsofindia 

George Orwell's (dilapidated) home, Motihari, Bihar, India.www.gg2.net.


 Conservationists in India and the Bihar state government are  now serious about restoring the ramshackle house in which George Orwell was born and converting into a monument in his memory. On the other hand, the natives of this town, who have no idea about Orwell, are insisting on the government to start a ''Satyagraha Park'' in memory of Gandhiji who first made experiments with Satyagraha here in Champaran district. Well wishers of both want the memorials built soon without getting bogged down in petty politics as it is common in some parts of India. As for some well educated natives of that area, both personalities will be given  a place on the world map.  The dilapidated house in which Orwell was born was once frequented by local hooligans and drunks and occasionally it was used as a gambling den. The 2.48 acres of land around the house was declared a protected area by the Bihar government in 2010 and the basic restoration work had already  begun in earnest.


Opium export to China created lots of addicts.eightarms.org
                 
A British Opium Warehouse, Patna, British ndia1868-1875
photos.blogspot.com
 

By the bye, what made Gandhiji come on the scene here and what was his connection with a remote place like this? First let us see briefly how the British was associated with opium. The British was in need of large sums of money to colonize more countries after conquering the  Indian subcontinent and found opium export to China and  elsewhere  a highly profitable business proposition. They saw with glee a money spinner in opium. Their motto was  "More opium from India to China, more money to the British coffers". Thus, the British exported more opium from India to China and was responsible for creating millions of addicts there. In the aftermath, there were millions of zombies walking on the streets in the nook and corner of  China and as, expected, the British treasury was  full to the brim. Prior to that China already had a large section of opium addicts, it was a controllable situation. Now, it was getting out of hand, thanks to British imperialism.

As for as India was concerned, the British forced the farmers and landowners to cultivate opium and in return paid crumbs to them as wages. This way the British Crown and their cronies  played a double game. Being doubly profitable at both ends, the EIC kept filling up the  British treasury  by way of exploiting innocent Indian farmers, and  making them to lead a hand to mouth lives  on one hand, and creating more and more opium addicts in China on the other hand. Standing midway in this thriving mercantile business, they made a huge bundle without minimum capital investment!! Shrewd and sly people!!

 Weary of over exploitation,  the farmers of Motihari wrote to Gandhi requesting him to visit their place and see for himself how they were poorly being paid by the British masters and how the soil was loosing its fertility due to continuous raising of opium in their lands. On account of their continuous  agricultural operations quality of soil  came down drastically and at stake was the future use of the soil to raise other crops. On his visit here Gandhiji was very upset and furious.Upon seeing their appalling working conditions, he took up their case and  immediately plunged into  what was called Satyagraha for the first time here. This non-cooperation (with the government) tool using non-violence


British India opium export to China, Chinese opium addict. Alamy
 

- became a sort of American Tomahawk missile that shook the basic edifice of the British Empire. The British rulers put Gandhiji behind the bar on a few occasions for his no-co-operation movements and public disturbances. His imprisonment for the sake of opium workers gave him wider publicity and Gandhiji's first foray into Satyagraha experiments won the international attention of India's serious independence struggle against oppressive foreign rule.
 
Chinese addict.yubanet.com

George Orwell was born Eric Blair  in Motihari, Bihar on June 25,1903.  He was the son of Richard W. Blair, revenue Officer in the British civil service department   in that small town during the Raj, and his duties included opium cultivation and storing the poppy seeds in the warehouses near his big bungalow for export to China. When Orwell was a year old  his mother, Ida Blair, moved with him to Oxfordshire. He never visited his birthplace again and his association with this small town was brief. Orwell was  Educated in England at Eton, and after  studies  he moved over to  Burma (now Myanmar) in 1922 where he joined the Indian Imperial Police for five years. During his job he was in charge of security of a populous district. His duty as a police officer took  him to several parts of Burma and with his own eyes witnessed so many unsavory incidents which he did nor cherish and over a period of time it resulted in his disappointment and disillusionment. After his 5 year stint with the police force  in Burma, he resigned the job and went back to England. After his brief  checkered career in France and England, he settled down as a novelist and and essayist, using the pseudonym, George Orwell. His  surname is derived from the beautiful River Orwell in East Anglia and  his nom de plume became so  well known  that very  few people but relatives knew his real name was Blair. His education at Eaton, England and his flair for writing became handy for him in his writing endeavors in the early stages. He began his writing career by penning  articles for magazines. His maiden book  Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) described his experiences as a struggling writer to make a mark in his chosen field. Subsequently his three novels Burmese Days (1934), A Clergyman's Daughter (1935) and Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) drew the attention of the literary work and won him name and recognition. Being a socialist, Orwell was against British imperialism and barriers of race and caste and back in London, he chose to live in East End England. He wantonly lived in cheap lodging houses in the run down places among the workers and beggars. Because of his aversion to materialistic life associated with imperialism, Orwell hated  the bourgeois lifestyle. While writing his book nineteen eighty four, he was in hospital on a few occasions  due to tuberculosis, of which he died in a London hospital in January 1950.

Lots of Indians are not aware that Motihari town is associated with two great people who really cared about human rights and human decency. Gandhiji and George Orwell may be two different nationals, but they majestically trod the same path of love and care for fellow human beings and their welfare. That is the reason why they have gone down in history in their own way and stand apart from others.

Ref:

https://www.gg2.net/news/india-news/Orwell%26rsquo%3Bs+Indian+birthplace+to+become+Gandhi+park/4770

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell